Terrance Franklin Wrongful Death Lawsuit
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Walter Louis Franklin, II, TrusteeFor the Estate of Terrance TerrellFranklin,
LUCAS PETERSON individually, and in his official capacity; MICHAEL MEATH, individually, and in his official capacity; JANE HARTEAU, Chief of Police for the Minneapolis Police Department, individually and in her official capacity; and the CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS,
CASE FILE NO.:
(JURY TRIAL DEMAND)
To:Defendants above named and their respective attorneys. This is an action for damages brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, and various Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Plaintiff also brings Minnesota common law claims including Wrongful Death pursuant to 2013 Minn. Stat. 573.02.
1. This action arises out of the wrongful killing of a young, African American male by members of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), a killing that need not and should not have happened but was entirely foreseeable.2. For many years, certain members of the MPD, who have some squad cars with the words displayed, To Protect and Serve with Compassion, operated in the field (and still do) with no compassion with persons of color, often engaged in excessive force, and over time, became more militarized which was especially true for the MPD SWAT team.3. While these traits were present over the span of many years, and became progressively worse, City of Minneapolis politicians, and others in positions of power, did essentially nothing other than approve and observe large payouts to those victimized by MPD personnel. These persons included former mayor R.T. Rybak, the Minneapolis City Council, and in particular, long-time Council President, Barb Johnson, former police chief, Timothy Dolan, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael Freeman, and John Delmonico, head of the police union for MPD personnel. 4. The death of this young victim was caused by a long standing culture of disregard for the rights of young, African American males who to in-the-field MPD personnel were considered the enemy, and in part, due to a culture that bread racism to the point that racism grew to be indemic in the MPD ranks, which was especially true for MPD SWAT. The overall goal was to convey a theme to African Americans in Minneapolis that the City of Minneapolis was not nigger friendly. Those referenced in Paragraph 3 were fully aware of most if not all of this racist reality.5. During the time of the MPD SWAT teams interaction with the victim in this case, Plaintiffs Decedent, Terrance Terrell Franklin, an MPD SWAT member, believed to be Defendant Lucas Peterson, called Franklin little nigger in the moments before Peterson and another SWAT member killed Franklin. Franklin presented no threat to the SWAT team since he had been successfully apprehended, clearly had surrendered, had both of his hands in the air at the moment he was killed in a surrender position, and was unarmed, but was killed, nonetheless, in an execution-type fashion due to anger, excessive force, and militarization.
II.JURISDICTION AND VENUE6. This Court has original and supplemental jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331 and 1367, as Plaintiffs claims are based on the Decedents rights under the United States Constitution, state law, and common law.7. Venue in this Court is appropriate since the unlawful practices delineated herein occurred within this State and District.
III.PARTIES8. Plaintiffs Decedent, Terrance Terrell Franklin (TF), was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 30, 1990. TF was a resident of Minneapolis when he died as a result of homicide by MPD on May 10, 2013.9. TF is survived by the following heirs and next of kin: Father Walter Louis Franklin, II; Mother Cassandra Dancy; Grandfather Walter Lee Franklin; Sister Classie Franklin; Brother Walter Franklin, III; Sister Carissa Franklin; Minor Brother M.T.S.M.; Minor Sister K.L.M.; and Minor Son N.A.M.10. Mr. Franklins father, Plaintiff designated herein, has been appointed by a Hennepin County judge as trustee for purposes of commencing this action. Plaintiff resides in a suburb of the Twin Cities.11. In May of 2013, Defendants Lucas Peterson and Michael Meath were employed, and still are employed, as police officers with MPD, and therefore, with the City of Minneapolis.12. Defendant Jane Harteau was at all material times, and still is, the police chief for MPD, and as such employed by, the City of Minneapolis.13. Defendant City of Minneapolis (Defendant City) is a municipality in the State of Minnesota and considered to be the appropriate entity legally responsible for claims arising out of excessive force and other inappropriate, illegal, and/or negligent conduct engaged in by MPD personnel and negligence of members of the Minneapolis City Council and the mayor of Minneapolis.IV.FACTUAL BACKGROUNDA. Facts Leading up to the Wrongful Killing of Terrance Franklin14. On May 10, 2013, Terrance Franklin (TF) was legally at the home of a female friend, an apartment complex in South Minneapolis. At that time, a person contacted the MPD with the belief that TF may have been involved in a burglary that happened at an earlier date apparently, weeks before.15. When MPD personnel arrived, TF was in a motor vehicle with the friend and her two children. After questioning began, TF proceeded to leave the scene by driving a short distance and exited the vehicle on foot.16. At that time, MPD summoned a huge number of personnel to the scene and surrounding area with the intention of apprehending TF. Although TF was unarmed, many MPD personnel were running through neighborhoods and adjoining areas with guns drawn. Although the exact total is not known at this time, it could be accurately categorized as dozens. The only crime for which TF was being sought was for fleeing police.17. It was subsequently determined that TF had entered a South Minneapolis home with the address 2717 Bryant Avenue South. While there, TF, via cell phone, called three women. TF was very scared, said nothing negative about law enforcement, and did not articulate a desire to injure or kill anyone with the MPD. TF was not suicidal on that date nor had he ever been suicidal.18. MPD personnel subsequently arrived at the home and summoned the MPD SWAT team for the purpose of apprehending TF.19. As a predicate to SWAT members entering the home, and in particular, the basement area, where TF was presumed to be, a police dog (K9 Unit) was directed to the basement where the dog had contact with TF.20. SWAT members subsequently entered the basement and began to extricate the K9 Unit from Franklin. As this process occurred, an MP5 firearm of one of the six SWAT members, a machine-gun-type firearm, discharged due to a firearm phenomenon known as accidental discharge with one round each accidentally striking two separate SWAT team members. This scenario was entirely accidental, had nothing to do with any intentional or unintentional act of TF, and only two rounds discharged. This was not friendly fire, a term defined as a conscious act of shooting by MPD personnel that injured one of their own.21. Soon thereafter, after the accidental discharge, the K9 Unit was taken from the basement by his K9 escort/officer, and TF was easily apprehended. He was now alone in the basement with four members of the SWAT team who possessed a total of eight firearms.22. These SWAT members reasonably believed there were no witnesses, but unbeknownst to them, a citizen was physically situated across the street from the Bryant Avenue home they were in, and videotaped with a so called smart phone. This act of videotaping recorded not only visual images, but audio of communication of SWAT team members with TF in the basement, and vice versa, as the events transpired.23. During this time, probably due to the injured officers, one or more SWAT members in the basement keyed the shoulder mic of their communication system which caused sounds to project out from the basement through the mics of MPD personnel who were situated in front of the Bryant Avenue home. The citizens act of recording with his smart phone therefore memorialized these sounds.24. The video, referred to herein as the Gaines Video, was subsequently posted on YouTube and was available to MPD investigators for forensic testing and enhancement without having to secure the actual phone from the citizen. To date, this testing has never been done officially by anyone associated with the MPD even though the MPD was aware of the significance of evidence on this video no later than 30 days from the time of TFs death and probably much earlier.25. The second references herein noted are from the 62-second total-length Gaines Video posted on YouTube which was subsequently placed into evidence by MPD as part of the official investigation but never enhanced or dealt with in any official investigative capacity such as forensic analysis.- Second 9 (elapsed time from beginning): Mookie.This was TFs nickname and was spoken by TF after he was successfully apprehended by SWAT members and asked his name.26. At second 11, an MPD officer in front of the home says: Officer shot. This therefore gave a clear delineated time as to when at least one officer had been shot, although the actual time of the accidental injury to the officers occurred long before estimated to be 90 to 120 seconds.27. As the matter progressed, due to anger and militarization, even after TF had been safely apprehended, a SWAT member says:- Second 24: Damn freakin nigger!This statement was directed to TF who the SWAT team viewed as the enemy since he was young, African American, and had attempted to evade arrest.28. TF, annoyed that he wa